The Jesus Rolls

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Jesus Rolls Movie Poster Image
Uncomfortable Lebowski spin-off is full of sex, swearing.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Fate/karma eventually catches up with and punishes the criminals, but even that's bungled. Otherwise, the movie is full of unpunished crime and iffy treatment of -- and messages about -- women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the characters are admirable in any way. They're based on drifting "hippie" characters from a 1970s movie and are mostly trying to buck anything conventional (but have nothing to offer in its place).

Violence

Guns and shooting. Character shot in leg; moans in pain. Blood shown. Characters killed. Suicide. Character is tied up. Car crash.

Sex

Characters with multiple sexual partners in several scenes. Both men and women sleep together, including threesomes. Topless woman; men's naked bottoms. Sex acts depicted quite graphically, with thrusting. Character interrupts a sex worker who's with a client. Sex noises, screaming, moaning, etc. Character commits indecent exposure while urinating next to a young boy in a public restroom (boy comments on size of the man's penis; they have a conversation about it). Painting of a naked woman. Strong sex talk and sexual innuendo. Flirting.

Language

Constant language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "bastard," "piss," "balls," and (of course) "Jesus" (referring to main character).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Glasses of wine seen on table at lunch.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Jesus Rolls is a comedy based on John Turturro's Jesus Quintana character from The Big Lebowski. It's also a remake of the controversial 1974 French film Going Places. Despite an all-star cast, it's a total misfire: It's baffling, unfunny, and it has iffy messages. Expect explicit sex-related content: Characters have multiple sexual partners/threesomes, women are shown topless, men's naked bottoms are seen, and there are sex noises and graphic sex talk. There's a disturbing scene in which a young boy admires the main adult character's penis in a public restroom. Language is also extremely strong, with constant uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "p---y," and many more. There are guns, a character gets shot (blood shown), and other characters are killed. A woman dies via suicide, a character is tied up, and a car crashes. Glasses of wine are seen on a table during lunch.

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What's the story?

In THE JESUS ROLLS, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro, reprising his character from The Big Lebowski) is released from prison. His friend Petey (Bobby Cannavale) picks him up. They cross paths with an egotistical hairdresser (Jon Hamm) and steal his car, and Petey gets shot in the leg. They then pick up Marie (Audrey Tautou), drive around, and occasionally have sex. When the police appear at a restaurant, Jesus and Petey ditch Marie and pick up another woman (Susan Sarandon) who's just been released from prison. Later, they pick up the woman's son (Pete Davidson), also from prison, and introduce him to Marie. This leads to an act of violence that sends Jesus, Petey, and Marie on the run. They steal another car and face an ironic retribution.

Is it any good?

This baffling, unfunny total misfire of a movie feels like an embarrassing, uncomfortable dream. The Jesus Rolls feels like something your subconscious might produce after watching The Big Lebowski and eating a large pizza just before going to bed. Writer/director/star Turturro understandably wanted to revisit his Jesus Quintana character, the bowler who stole a few small scenes in Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 classic. But what isn't understandable is why Turturro decided to tell Jesus' story in the form of a remake of Bertrand Blier's Going Places, a 1974 French movie very much of its time about hippies, unrestrained sex, boredom, and crime. Aside from the "what were they thinking?" factor, the movie trudges along without much of a pace -- or a point.

Astonishingly, Turturro assembled a great cast for this dud, including Christopher Walken, J.B. Smoove, Tim Blake Nelson, Sonia Braga, and Michael Badalucco. But the movie's crime elements are without suspense or moral compass. At one point, a doctor fixes Petey's leg -- and then, before departing, Jesus steals the doctor's cash; the scene has a hazy, detached quality. The pre-AIDS themes of sexual freedom -- and especially themes of women needing men to bring them to ecstasy -- seem positively prehistoric in the #MeToo era. A wandering, searching movie about today might have been interesting, but The Jesus Rolls remains stuck in both the 1970s and the 1990s without much of a clue.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Jesus Rollssexual content. What is the men's attitude toward sex? How do women respond? What values are imparted?

  • How are guns depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences for gun violence?

  • How does this movie compare to The Big Lebowski? What do you think the filmmaker wanted to say about the Jesus character after all this time?

  • Do the characters learn a lesson in the end, or is it just an example of random "fate"?

Movie details

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